Day 56: Here’s to the Late Starts!

As I mentioned in the Day 55 post, we were on a modified schedule due to CMAS testing. This schedule opened our mornings – students did not arrive until after 12:00pm, which provided quite a bit of time for us to work, process, reflect, visit, etc.

I can’t tell you how much we needed this time. We needed time together and time near each other as we worked independently. I have some take aways and thoughts from the last two days, but first some highlights of today.

jon visits 1,2

Jon Pierce, a friend from Cherry Creek Schools visited today. He currently serves as the District STEM Coordinator and is a visionary thinker. In this picture he’s with two of my Mosaic colleagues discussing the potential of a garage-type door that opens into our Maker Space. I’m so glad he was finally able to meet my colleagues. In our short time together today he left us with at least five brilliant and immediately actionable ideas – some we had and he improved, others were all his. I look forward to his next visit where he will be able to interact with our students.

chair fix

In this picture Michael is explaining a quick fix to some chairs that were donated to us from our library. It seems simple, but they did need to try several designs before discovering which best supported our delicate behinds. This picture is a reminder that our Maker Space is just about reopened for the business of making.

small group instruction

Small group instruction is powerful indeed. In this picture you can see Christina with four students (discussing genocide and the history of genocides), Michael (behind Christina) editing a research paper about Music Theory as part of the student’s “Teach Me!” project. In the far background you may see two other small groups taking place. Now, don’t get me wrong, small groups around a table is not new in education, but it happens more in Mosaic. We hold seminars and a form of Just In Time Teaching (JITT) sessions like this quite often. It’s organic and natural in our setting.

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I mentioned earlier in this post that I had some take aways from the time provided us by the CMAS testing schedule. Here they are, in no particular order, as they pertain to both the Mosaic Collective and to the Mosaic teachers.

  • An answer is only a question away.
  • We take “etcetera” days or time when needed as needed – we do not mock others when they decide they need to better take care of themselves or their families.
  • The more we try to “structure” our time by the school’s schedule the more we damage our creativity and program.
  • We must work on individual projects and ideas to grow.
  • “Standardized” group-think is not necessarily synonymous with effective communication.
  • Effective communication is rooted in trust and respect – the opposites of “feeling left out.”
  • Sitting and working with a small group of students trumps overly-scheduled anticipatory seminars. That is, I’ll take just in time teaching anytime.
  • Let student questions and your experience and skills as an educator guide your conversations with students and learning groups. They won’t ever steer you wrong.
  • Always reflect on these student-based conversations in an “out of your head” way.
  • Want a meeting? … set an agenda and identify who really needs to be there. Don’t rely on informal gatherings to make collective decisions. Take the time to get organized.
  • Ask, seek, create, and contribute.
  • Ask lots of questions and question lots of answers.
  • We should wake up thinking, “How can we make these next hours the best hours of our students’ day?” (HT @garystager)
  • Learning is messy … really, really messy.
  • Expecting nonconformists and disruptive personalities to conform in traditional ways is stupid. Don’t be stupid.
  • I grew up playing the team sport of soccer. Thus my concept of a team is one that recognizes individual skills and strengths and that slides, covers, adjusts to maintain flow and progress. We all play different roles, but – through trust, respect, and practice (i.e., time together), we learn to work together.
  • Ego. There’s really no place for a bloated ego in Mosaic (if you’re a Mosaic teacher and you just rolled your eyes and thought of a colleague, well…). 🙂
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